Why Does Our Hair Turn Gray or White? | Herbriller Blog

Why Does Our Hair Turn Gray or White?

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Gray or white hair is often associated with ageing. On average, Caucasians turn gray in their mid-30s, Asians in their late 30s and Africans in their early 40s.

To know how gray and white hair occur, we first need to understand how we get our natural hair colors.

Elderly woman with white hair

Elderly woman with white hair

What Gives Us Our Hair Color

Have you ever wondered why people are born with different hair colors? Turns out, our natural hair color depends on the type and amount of melanin pigments in our hair.

Newly grown hair is colorless and transparent, similar to gray hair. The melanin pigment then colors our hair to give us our natural hair colors.

There are two types of melanin pigments: eumelanin, which gives the colors orange and red, and pheomelanin, which produces the black and brown shades in our hair. The different levels of eumelanin and pheomelanin determine if our hair is black, brown, red, blonde and anything in between.

Why Do We Get Gray and White Hair

Each strand of hair has a growth cycle that occurs in three stages:

  • anagen, or the active growth stage of the hair which can last from 2 to 7 years;
  • catagen, or the transitional stage lasting 10 to 20 days where the hair begins to stop growth activity; and
  • telogen, lasting about 100 days where the hair growth is completely at rest and the hair falls out.

When a hair falls out of its follicle after the telogen phase, the hair growth process starts over again to the anagen phase, where a new strand of hair grows in its place. Melanin pigments inject color into the new strand of hair as it grows out.

With age, the amount of melanin that is produced decreases. With less color pigments injected into the hair, it turns gray and eventually white.

Common Causes of Premature Gray and White Hair

Gray and white hair can occur at any age. Some people get their first strands of gray hair when they are in school, while others may only turn gray in their 30s or 40s. Besides age, there are other factors that may cause a person’s hair to turn gray or white.

Genetics

Our genes play a big role in when our hair turn gray or white. Thus, we will get gray or white hair roughly around the same age when our parents started to get theirs.

Medical Conditions

Some autoimmune diseases such as alopecia and vitiligo where the body’s immune system attacks its own cells can cause premature white hair. People with a thyroid problem can also undergo hormonal changes that cause their body to produce less melanin, leading to their hair turning gray or white.

Diet

Having a balanced diet is also a key to good hair health. If you have white hair at an early age, it can indicate vitamin B-12 deficiency. Inadequate levels of minerals such as copper and calcium have also been linked to premature graying.

Lifestyle

Leading a healthy lifestyle shows on your hair and skin. Some lifestyle factors and choices known to cause gray and white hair include chronic stress and smoking.

Chemicals

The use of chemical-based hair dyes and hair products such as shampoo can also cause premature hair graying. Many of these products contain harmful ingredients – for example, hydrogen peroxide in hair dyes – that decrease the production of melanin.

Whether it is possible to reverse or prevent gray or white hair depends on the cause. If the cause is genetics, there is nothing that can be done to prevent or permanently reverse the hair color change. For other causes such as a health problem or lifestyle choice, pigmentation may return if the underlying condition is treated, although it is not guaranteed.

What to Do When Gray and White Hair Appear

Elderly man with gray hair

Elderly man with gray hair

When gray or white hair appears, you can decide whether to cover your gray hair or let it show. If you choose to cover your gray hair, go for a natural hair dye like Herbriller that does not cause damage to your hair and scalp like chemical hair dye does.

While you may want to pluck the gray and white hair off your scalp, resist the temptation to do so and cut them off instead if you have to. Plucking hair can hurt your hair follicles, ruin the texture of your hair, damage your scalp and thin your hair.

Covering Your Gray or White Hair with Hair Dye

If you choose to cover your gray and white hair with a hair dye, consider using a natural hair dye like Herbriller. For those who cannot use regular chemical hair dye due to allergies or are health conscious, this is a safe way to cover gray and white hair naturally.

For those with sparse gray hair, a basic dye with Herbriller can create a fun color dynamic with the orange color from henna, one of ten premium herbs used in Herbrilller. Those with a lot of gray hair will get a head of orange hair and if preferred, can do double dyeing with colors ranging from Herbriller Light Brown to Henna Soft Black to get a rich brown or black color.

Herbriller not only covers your gray and white hair, it also improves the condition of your hair and scalp. With repetitive use, the color on your hair settles and deepens, hair loss and dandruff decrease as scalp condition improves, and your hair becomes more radiant. In addition, the surface of your hair is coated, acting as a protection against UV rays and pollution.

Takeaway

While genetics largely influence when our hair turns gray or white, making a conscious effort in our diet, lifestyle and product choices, and treating underlying health conditions can help to prevent, slow down or reverse premature graying of hair.

Eventually, the graying of our hair is a natural ageing process. You can make a choice to age gracefully with a head of silver hair, or cover your graying hair with a hair dye that helps to keep your hair and scalp healthy.